Woman who severely injured baby daughter changes plea to guilty

Published 11:32 am Monday, April 30, 2012

An Austin woman who months ago allegedly caused life-threatening injuries to her now 2-year-old daughter changed her plea in Mower County Court Thursday.

Heang Kim Sean, 22, pleaded guilty in Mower County Court to two felonies — second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and third-degree assault. As part of a plea agreement, a third charge, first-degree assault, was dismissed.

Sean caused injuries to her daughter that included liver lacerations, bruising of the intestinal wall and spleen, pancreas damage and blood in the abdomen, according to court complaints.

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Sean’s attorney, Dan Donnelly, asked for bail to be lowered, so Sean could make bail. She has since been released.

Sean’s daughter, 18 months old at the time, was in the hospital from Aug. 12 to Oct. 3, 2011, according to a court complaint. In that time, she had a blood transfusion and surgery to remove a section of her small intestine.

Sean told police at the time something must have happened at daycare. However, she said the toddler “was great” and able to eat and play when she picked her up from child care just after midnight on Aug. 12, hours before she was taken to St. Marys Hospital.

The morning Sean took her daughter to the hospital, she said the child looked “pale, white, not normal and weak” when she checked on her, court documents stated.

A doctor at the hospital told officers it was highly unlikely the toddler would have been able to eat, drink or play with such severe injuries. The doctor said the injury could not have occurred without someone realizing the child was hurt, as she would have been in obvious pain, according to court documents.

“The medical records revealed the injuries received by the child would have taken extreme force, such as an automobile accident or a very hard blow to the abdomen by an adult,” the complaint stated.

The court complaint said the doctor thinks it is a “strong possibility” the injury took place between 12:40 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Aug. 12 — from when Sean picked the child up from daycare to the time the child was put to bed.

Sean faces the termination of her parental rights for failing to protect her daughter, according to a family court petition. Mower County Human Services also petitioned for child protective services for Sean’s son, who was born in early October. Both children are in the custody of MCHS at undisclosed foster homes, according to the petition.

Sean is set to be sentenced on May 2.

—Amanda Lillie contributed to this report.